As expected, Ontario’s top court has postponed a hearing of an appeal by three members of the Shafia family of Montreal, who were convicted of murdering four other family members in a mass honour killing. The hearing, originally scheduled to be heard by the Court of Appeal for Ontario on Dec. 14, has been put off because of the surprise claim by one of the three convicted killers, Hamed Shafia (inset), who is bringing an application to admit fresh evidence.
Hamed Shafia (inset), the Montreal man convicted, along with his father and mother, of murdering four family members in what the trial judge called a “heinous” and “despicable” mass honour killing, is poised to present a new claim to Ontario’s top court in the appeal of his conviction. The youngest Shafia killer maintains that he was not 18 years old at the time of the murders on June 30, 2009, and he has documents newly obtained from Afghanistan, his birthplace, that purport to prove it, Cancrime learned.
A Montreal father, mother and son convicted nearly four years ago of murdering four other family members in an honour killing argue, in an appeal to Ontario’s top court, that they were victims of “cultural stereotyping” and “overwhelmingly prejudicial evidence” that should not have been admitted at their murder trial. In a 110-page document filed with the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Mohammad Shafia, 62 (inset), his wife Tooba, 45, and their son Hamed, 24, claim they’re entitled to a new trial. The document is a concise outline of the evidence and legal argument that lawyers for the three will present at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 14.
There is a kind of poetic brilliance in the sterile simplicity of written decisions of the Parole Board of Canada. The federal agency has the unenviable task of cataloguing horrors inflicted on society by figures who are both tragic and frightening. Derek Anthony Wood (inset) is one of these – a teenage mastermind of multiple murder. Wood was just 18 years old on May 7, 1992 when he and two accomplices set out to rob the McDonald’s Restaurant where he worked in tiny Sydney River, Nova Scotia. Wood believed, wrongly, that the safe held hundreds of thousands of dollars. The trio slaughtered three restaurant workers –shooting, stabbing and bludgeoning them – and left a fourth permanently disabled. They fled with roughly $2,000 but were soon caught and convicted. Wood, who was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, appears to have “some psychopathic traits,” according to the written record of his parole hearing (read document after the jump) convened earlier this year. He was denied any form of release.
Terror took root in central Saskatchewan on this day 40 years ago. On June 15, 1975, two children, 12-year-old Dahrlyne Cranfield and Robert Grubesic (inset), 9, disappeared while riding their bicycles along the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. Roughly a month later, Samantha Turner, 8, and Cathy Scott, 7, disappeared. Parents kept their children home behind locked doors. Finally, a tip led police to David Threinen, a truck driver with a history of sex attacks against children. He confessed and led officers to the bodies of his victims. He had strangled them and dumped them in two remote locations outside Saskatoon. A psychiatric report revealed in parole records (read document after the jump) would later describe Threinen as “a cold, amoral individual who felt compelled to offend sexually against children and who experienced no remorse for his victims even when he killed them.”
The rate at which Canadians are being murdered dropped in 2013 to its lowest level in 47 years, according to Statistics Canada. Nationally, there were 1.44 victims per 100,000 people in 2013, down eight per cent from 1.56 in 2012 and the lowest rate recorded since 1966. In 2013, 505 people were killed (includes murder, manslaughter, infanticide) in Canada, meaning that a nation of 35 million people had fewer killings than Los Angeles County (population 10 million), which recorded 595 homicides in 2013. The murder rate in the U.S. has generally been about three times higher than the rate in Canada for some time. Canada’s highest murder rate recorded since 1963 was in 1977, when it hit 3.0, according to StatsCan.
There is a name – Robert Baltovich – that Calgary Police homicide investigators likely are loath to consider as they hunt the bodies of three murder victims. Baltovich (inset) is a member of an exclusive club in Canadian criminal history: a man convicted of murder in the absence of the body of a victim, who was later was exonerated. Baltovich was convicted of second-degree murder in 1992, although police had not found the body of his purported victim, his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain. The 22-year-old Toronto woman disappeared in 1990. Baltovich spent eight years in prison. In 2008, he was acquitted after a second trial. Baltovich is suing, claiming malicious prosecution, in a case that soon will pass the quarter century mark and that exemplifies the difficulties of a prosecution in which authorities lack a critical piece of evidence, the body of the victim. Elizabeth Bain’s remains have never been found. In Calgary, nearly two months have elapsed since the disappearance of Alvin Liknes, 66, his wife Kathryn, 53, and their five-year-old grandson Nathan O’Brien. Police have said that their bodies have not been found. Despite this, investigators concluded that the three were murdered. Douglas Garland, a 54-year-old man with business and personal ties to the victims and a criminal record, has been charged with the murders.
A child sex killer who was possessed by deviant desires to molest and harm children beginning in his youth, has been murdered in a prison in Manitoba, according to Winnipeg Free Press crime reporter Mike McIntyre. Duane Taylor (inset) is notorious in Kingston, Ontario, where he raped and murdered a two-year-old girl, April Morrison, in 1981. Taylor has been behind bars since his conviction for first-degree murder in April’s slaying, a crime that rocked the small eastern Ontario city. (UPDATE: A 25-year-old inmate at Stony Mountain Institution is charged with murdering Taylor).
Calgary realtor Tom Malin needs a good editor. Malin has one of the most talked about real estate listings in Calgary right now. He’s selling a 53-year-old two-storey (inset) on a leafy street in Brentwood, one of Cowtown’s older neighbourhoods in the northwest. The house at 11 Butler Crescent NW is listed at $489,900. The house is described, in Malin’s listing, as having “all the right bones for you and your family.” The word choice seems questionable and tasteless, given that the house was the site, 15 weeks ago, of a horrific mass murder in which five people were stabbed to death. Having ‘good bones’ is real estate marketing lingo tantamount to saying that the structure and foundation of a house is solid, but, cosmetically, it needs work. Surely Malin could have found a more creative and tasteful way to describe a property that is a lightning rod for community grief.
Do killers locked in Canadian prisons marry, get conjugal visits with their new wives and father children, while they remain behind bars? Yes, yes, and yes. In fact, it happens regularly. But what about a sadistic serial rapist and killer like Paul Bernardo (inset), who has been in prison since November 1995, after he was convicted of murdering two teenage girls in Ontario, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy? Well, maybe. The questions are relevant, given news (broken in a story by Sunmedia) that Bernardo has struck up a romantic relationship with a 30-year-old woman from London, Ontario, who wants to marry the man considered one of the most depraved serial killers caught in Canada in the last half century. I think Bernardo may be working a scheme with this relationship.